The Holy Spirit makes all the difference. Only after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, when the terrified disciples were hiding in an attic, when the fire of the Holy Spirit came upon them did they take to the streets as Jesus did, denounce the empire and its violence and idolatry, announce the risen Savior and his new life of nonviolence, engage in civil disobedience and give their lives for the coming of God’s reign of justice and peace. The Holy Spirit pushed them out into the world as instruments of God’s disarming love. They were no longer afraid. They were bold, daring, courageous, subversive and dangerous–just like Jesus. They finally became people of creative, active nonviolence in a world of deadly violence.
But before we pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit of peace upon us, I think it is helpful to name the horrific reality of thse dark times, namely, that we are possessed in varying degrees by the evil spirit of war and violence. The evil spirit seeks to discourage us, and to keep us quiet, indifferent, apathetic and afraid. The evil spirit wants us to mind our own business and look the other way while it stirs up war and kills our sisters and brothers. The evil spirit is behind every act of violence, every bomb, every murder, every execution, every abortion, every assassination, every starvation and every war.
The evil spirit says there is no God of peace;that nonviolence doesn’t work; that you can’t love your enemies; that you need nuclear weapons to protect you; that you better support your country’s wars; and that there is nothing you can do anyway. The evil spirit wants to keep the church passive, divided, helpless, hopeless, and going along with the culture of war. The evil spirit claims you are nobody, that you can’t make a difference, that Jesus failed and is not risen, that violence works, that might makes right, that enemies are meant to be eliminated, and that you better be very, very afraid. But we know better. As Christians we live in the Holy Spirit of Jesus and we beg that Holy Spirit to come upon us and live within us and guide us and push us out into the world as instruments of God’s disarming love.
The Holy Spirit lets us live and breathe in peace. The Holy Spirit reminds us that we are God’s beloved children, that we are called to follow the nonviolent Jesus on the road to peace. The Holy Spirit disarms our hearts of our inner violence and sends us forth into the world of violence to be disciples and apostles of Gospel nonviolence. The Holy Spirit pushes us to speak the truth, to denounce Bush’s war on Iraq, the U.S. funding of the occupation of Palestinians, the demonic work of nuclear weapons at Los Alamos, the first world inifference to third world poverty and suffering, and the mad rush to the brink of environmental destruction. The Holy Spirit urges us to practice active, creative nonviolence, to resist U.S.
warmaking and imperial violence, to confront U.S. injustice at home and abroad, to join and organize nonviolent movements for disarmament, liberation, and justice for the whole human race. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to recognize every human being as Christ, as our very sister and brother, and so the Holy Spirit helps us to love our neighbors and our enemies. The Holy Spirit invites us to pray and prays within us and guides us into the love of God where we discover to our shock and amazement, that God is a God of love, a God of compassion, a God of peace; that Jesus is indeed risen and alive and leading us on the road to peace.
St. Ignatius wrote that the spiritual life is a matter of discerning the spirits, following the peace and consolation of the Holy Spirit, and living in that Holy Spirit of Jesus. My hope and prayer is that we might always be Holy Spirit people, and so we pray:
Come Holy Spirit of peace, lead us to the life of peace.
Come Holy Spirit of nonviolence, lead us to reject violence and practice active nonviolence.
Come Holy Spirit of compassion, lead us from revenge and retaliation to mercy and compassion.
Come Holy Spirit of forgiveness, lead us from anger and resentment to forgiveness and reconciliation.
Come Holy Spirit of hope, lead us from despair to hope.
Come Holy Spirit of truth, lead us from lies to truth.
Come Holy Spirit of love, lead us from hatred and fear and indifference to the fullness of love.
Come Holy Spirit of life, lead us to resist death and embrace life, to seek the God of life!